Tag Archives: Cosplay

Cute Maids and Good Food at Akiha Bali Maid Cafe

It seems that there’s a bunch of energetic cosplayers and/or weebs in Bali. This is me judging solely from the increasing amount of maid cafes that have suddenly sprouted up, usually in partnerships with local, small Japanese-style restaurants in Denpasar.

The most recent café features ten lovely and cute maids ready to serve their masters over a two-day period from 11-12 June 2016 at Sushi Tsuki restaurant, located at Jalan Gatot Subroto in Denpasar. The maid café, hosted by newcomer organizer, Akiha Bali, adds to the diversity of maid cafes that the island has seen, such as the Love Live! maid café last year and Dream Chamber. Continue reading Cute Maids and Good Food at Akiha Bali Maid Cafe

Should Cosplayers be Paid?

It’s now time for one of my unpopular opinions. Yesterday, I was at an event. It was a corporate event, sponsored by a company that sells Japanese vehicles. I don’t approve of these corporates using cosplay as a means for cheap advertisement and a crowd magnet. At least give them a form of reimbursement, like snacks or a small fee. Which brings me to the topic at hand. With cosplay becoming so mainstream, there are instances where cosplayers are “used” by certain companies, especially malls or large corporates, under the pretext of a “cosplay event”. Even though we know it’s total bullshit; they just attach the word “cosplay” to attract more people. Thus, the question that needs to be asked is: should cosplayers under these circumstances be provided with remuneration/reimbursement?

Continue reading Should Cosplayers be Paid?

Managing Fame in Cosplay

In recent news, I’ve stumbled upon some fuss about an incident where a famous cosplayer was “caught” wanting to purchase “any type of costume of any character”. The origins of the debacle seems to have been erased, so I’m operating only secondary sources. It would seem that the famous cosplayer intended to buy a costume for her friend, but was misunderstood by someone else who thought that famous cosplayers should all possess godlike skills in crafting and have unlimited time on their hands to focus solely on their cosplays. The famous cosplayer in question has screenshot a status update of the accuser and despite the accuser not explicitly mentioning the famous cosplayer, as I write this, a bunch of white knights have deployed themselves to the battlefield for a chance to impress the damsel in distress and conquer the evil bitch who called her out.

And that’s for your news today. I’m Ahotaku, reporting for the independent people’s media.

But seriously though, have standards stooped this low in cosplay? It seems that nowadays, anyone with a pretty face and a bunch of selfies can rise up the ladder to become a famous cosplayer and invited to become a guest star. Sometimes, these people are invited as judges, just because they’re famous and pretty/handsome. Cosplay now is more like modeling than actually a hobby.

So in this post, let me question some of the basic assumptions we hold in the cosplay world. This time, regarding guest stars.

What makes a guest star?

It’s finally time someone started thinking on what the term “guest star” actually means and how it has been skewed by the tryhard wannabe pleb-tier events just so they can look cool and on par with AFAID.

Here, the term “guest” is pretty self-explanatory. It means someone you invite over. You host an event, you invite someone over. These people are your guests. This applies to everybody, including the plebs that come to spend their hard-earned parent’s cash on things they’ll probably masturbate to later at home.

Next, the term “star”. Of course I don’t mean a literal star in an astronomic sense. We’d fucking burn. No, the “star” here, in my very humble opinion, should refer to “a person who has at least achieved a significant achievement or is well recognized by the cosplay community as having traits that are exemplary”. And by “achievement” I don’t mean breaking 100K likes on a selfie taken on a low-res camera or even WorldCosplay rank. Of course, there are other traits that can be considered, like:

  • Does the person share a lot of inspirational advice in an attempt to benefit to community?
  • Does the person show passion in the art of crafting their own costume? Because as far as I’ve seen, most of the famous cosplayers craft their own gear either partially or fully.
  • Is the person not a total douchebag on the internet, hiding behind an army of SJWs and white knights? Do they often make a fuss about shit that shouldn’t be a problem in the first place
  • And many more, I bet you can think of some.

To make it easier for the dimwits reading this, I present to you two cosplayers. One cosplayer has a pretty face, the other pretty standard. The first cosplayer is famous on social media, having more than 1 trillion followers and is constantly rank 1 on WorldCos; while the other is mostly unnoticed because they don’t have a large social media following. Yet cosplayer 1 acts like a total douche and is condescending towards their peers; whereas cosplayer 2 takes the time to actually teach and help their friends improve themselves. Who would you think should be granted the title of “star”?

Of course, ideally, the award should be presented to cosplayer number 2. But in this fucked up world we live in, where we perceive the goodness of people solely on much likes and followers they have on social media and the relative beauty of their physical appearances, we would to choose cosplayer number 1 as a “star” despite them not showing traits that are exemplary to the community.

So, the ideal “guest star” would be someone who is actually talented and is a paragon of virtue for the community. Someone who won the WCS tournament should be considered a “star”, and when invited to talk or perform at an event, is then worthy of the title “guest star”. Not some person who posts occasional sexy cosplay pics and gets a gazillion likes.

But nowadays, event organizers just plaster the word around the place. “Guest star” this, “guest star” that… even if the guest star is a total asshole or is just famous on the internet because she posts occasional nudes/he posts occasional abs. And so what should be done about this? Creating a specific agency to carefully certify guest stars is fucking stupid, and we can’t actually rely on the community’s vote. So, maybe it’s up to event organizers to actually get to know the people they’re inviting beforehand. A bit of background research shouldn’t be that hard.

But then again, it’s all about the shekels, folks. It’s financially more plausible to invite a guest star that has a large following, since there’s a higher chance that the event will be full of fat ugly men waiting to see their beloved sex fantasy object in real life. Ah shekels, how you ruin idealism!

Should a guest star be a judge in a cosplay competition?

Now on to this other issue that’s always been nagging me. When I go to cosplay events to watch performances, I would expect the judges to be fair and at least free from collusion or nepotism. But there was one time when I went to an event (it was last year, I think) where a guest star was also a judge for a cosplay competition. Since it was a small competition organized by a small community, I didn’t give a shit back then. But the more you think about it, the more you start seeing events that host cosplay competitions and use guest stars as judges, despite the guest star being a total noob about performance.

The answer to the question above is yes, but only under certain conditions.

First, there should at least be disclosure on the qualities of the guest star that justify granting the title of “judge” to them. Like, fucking tell us if she’s won any competitions before that are not community-based ones and not where she’s judged by a panel of her peers. This is to provide assurance to the cosplayers performing that they are (at least) being assessed by someone who knows what they’re doing. What organizers can do is ask the judge to provide a short summary of their achievements, which will be read to the audience so that they can fact-check it. Hey, I was once an adjudicator for a debate competition, and they requested my debating experiences in print before considering me for the position. They should be doing the same thing for cosplay as well. Standards, people. Standards.

Second, under no circumstances should a guest star be considered for the position of judge solely on the basis of fame. I cannot stress this enough. Just because someone is famous, doesn’t they have the capacity to judge. I don’t care how many followers she has or how many horny fat men are after her, if she doesn’t know the slightest thing about performing, she should not sit on the judge’s panel. She should just stay somewhere else, preferably far away from the stage, and just be pretty for the cameras. Solely famous guest stars should only be used for marketing purposes. If that comes across too harsh, remember that professional models live the same life.

Finally, if the organizer ignores parts 1 and 2, the guest star should only sit on the judge panel to provide commentary and their votes will not be considered in the final decision. At least they can have a say and still be pretty while doing it. A bit of commentary is nice, no?

So, those are my issues regarding guest stars. In the end, to become a “star” shouldn’t be easy work. You can’t just go viral and then automatically become a “star”; you gotta earn it from the community. Even the singers on American Idol have to work hard to get their titles. Also, just because people are famously pretty, doesn’t mean their opinions get to matter. That’s called the halo effect.

Anyway, I guess that’s enough for now. See you assholes later in another post! By the way, if you enjoy my writing, please take a look at my Medium account, where I post stuff from my daily life.

3 Foolproof Ways to Avoid Internet Drama: Weeb Stuff Edition

Hey-lo there fellow assholes, let’s start the year (albeit very late) with a light post. If you’ve been following my Facebook page, you would know that I’m in a shitload of work right now. But that’s okay, because I’ll be quitting soon to resume my life as a worthless motherfucking NEET.

So, I’ve been working in social media now, mostly designing shit (unfortunately not memes) and have been spending a lot of time on Facebook. Of course, I digress once in a while from advertising to keep up with my “friends” and their drama, which is always a welcome distraction from tedious work. Religion, cosplay, politics… you name it. Indonesians nowadays are so fucking easy to trigger. Just post a pic like this:

11218558_443318252516239_6460439442910550934_o.jpg

…and you got yourselves a lot of butthurt wannabe ISIS sympathizers and edgy people commenting. Or, just post a screenshot of you being cyber-molested by a random asshole you can easily block, but decide to make a big fuss of anyway. BOOM, so many white-knights and morals police come to the rescue. This is the kind of shit that evolves into prolonged discussions, threads, even mountains of blog posts (yes, I’m guilty too sometimes).

Continue reading 3 Foolproof Ways to Avoid Internet Drama: Weeb Stuff Edition

Of Religion and Cosplay: Thou Shalt Not Mix Them

Want me to be really honest? I’ve tried my best to not even stir the delicate fabric that is religion whenever I discuss an issue related to otaku culture. I really tried. I’m an atheist; I believe God doesn’t exist. But, I can’t be open in this country because the state “forces” its people to have a religion. And because a lot of people are morons who can’t distinguish “discussing an idea” from “blatant attack on personal belief”, I refrain from discussing atheism openly.

But, this… just for this once, I’ll break my commitment to discuss something that I think was meant to be good, but got botched in conveying its message, thereby making it look really stupid.

Just this morning, I woke up and turned on my phone. The first thing I did was masturbate open Facebook and I was intrigued by a status update of a friend. He shared the following photo from the Otaku Muslim fan page:

12113350_914026152007898_344512746138326514_o

On a side note, I seriously believe the term “Otaku Muslim” is an oxymoron because a person cannot be faithful to one without contradicting the other.

Anyway, the above meme roughly translates to:

Left: When women dress openly, men will love them with lust.

Right: When women protect their dignity, men will love them with their hearts.

I was like “Ah the typical hijab cosplay bullshit again”. I made my decision years ago that though I appreciate the creativity behind hijab cosplay, I would never acknowledge it as being “real cosplay” because it botches up the characters unless said character actually wears a hijab. And my stance hasn’t changed.

The entire notion of categorical nudity is stupid. Nudity is subjective. Showing off your bikini at the beach is not considered nudity by Western standards; but showing some skin in Muslim countries can be considered nudity. Where are we? Indonesia may be a Muslim-majority country, but we are essentially multicultural, ergo, we cannot impose an arbitrary standard of nudity based on just one segment of the population. Thus, we can’t judge the left cosplayer as being promiscuous just because she’s wearing something that doesn’t fit Islamic standards, moreover implying that whoever does so will only be loved for lust. It is an imbalanced comparison because it heavily favors one side. Besides, there is no causal relation between the amount of skin someone shows off in cosplay and the type of love she is entitled to received.

And don’t let me get started on the religious controversies surrounding the legitimacy of “hijab cosplay”.

Abrahamic religions share similar tenets, and I believe they all believe that pride is a sin. I haven’t finished studying the Koran yet, however. Now, let’s put it this way. The entire point of this meme, as I believe, is to show that a certain religious practice is “better” than others. Correct me if I’m wrong, but is it not a sin to be proud of something, while at the same time, dissing another practice? Different strokes for different folks, and nobody is better than another.

Besides, the meme makes fun of both women and men alike. Women are portrayed as objects that have to be told what to do, while men are vile creatures who can’t control their dicks. The thing is, it’s not about dressing up like a matryoshka doll. It’s about how you think. People can have vile thoughts about the cosplayer on the right, even though she’s covered from head to toe.

On a side note, using Kotori as an “icon” of promiscuous cosplay is fucking stupid. She’s an innocent character. Besides, her costume isn’t that open. Try harder, OP.

Religion is like a penis. It’s okay to have one, it’s okay to love having one too. But when you start flinging it around in public and shouting, “My penis is the greatest and you all can suck it”, that’s a problem.

Personally, I just cannot understand how the tenets of Islam (or any religion for that matter) and cosplay, a liberal culture, can meet eye-to-eye. Religion is conservative, cosplay is liberal. Religion doesn’t want people to be dressed up in skimpy outfits, cosplay allows you to do whatever the fuck you want. I like to think of it like this: cosplay is a free medium where you can dress as anything you like and not get reprimanded for it. I can cosplay as Osama bin Laden with a bomb strapped to my chest because it’s freedom of expression. But when I go around telling and putting down other cosplayers, especially those from different religious and cultural backgrounds, that they deserve to go to hell because their costumes do not adhere to the standards of belief system, that’s where the line should be drawn.

Hobbies should remain secular.

Worrying about the Trans-Pacific Partnership

TPP62715

Call me late, but when it comes to heavy shit like multilateral trade and IPR regimes, I’d prefer being late to having my facts wrong and looking like a total douche.

So, a while back, our President (who is always wrong) went to the United States of Fucking America for a state visit. He came back with some startling news: Indonesia was going to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). They say it would be a good opportunity for economic growth, yadda yadda insert usual political rhetoric here.

Now, last time I checked, the TPP was a secretive project concocted by the US government to increase their export advantages and impose a global liberal trade regime. There has been no public discussion of the TPP bill and its details have remained secret. The only thing the public has are leaks from WikiLeaks and that’s pretty much it.

But since it’s made by America and has the word “liberal” in it, it should be bad right? Normally, I’d whisk away those conspiracy nutjobs, but this time, I would have to agree that the TPP would do more harm to Indonesia than good.

What the Fuck is the TPP?

The TPP acts as an international trade regime. In a trade regime, any country who ratified the pact immediately agrees to all the rules stated in the pact and from thereon, must adjust their own national laws to meet the standards of said pact. Say that, for example, Japan has their own copyright rules and America has their own. Now, since America made the TPP, if Japan wanted to become a member of the club, Japan would have to follow the rules of the TPP and thereby adjust their own national copyright laws to meet the standards of the TPP. That’s how international law works fundamentally. Don’t like it? Then GTFO; you don’t have to join the club. Now, let me get to the rules of the TPP. Though details are still rather vague, there are many credible analyses online regarding the possible content of the TPP. I like the analyses by TPPinfo.org. Head over there and educate yourselves if you haven’t.

Though there’s a lot to talk about, let’s talk about intellectual property rights (IPR). IPR laws  differ from country to country, mostly due to differences in local customs. In Indonesia, IPR laws exist, but enforcement is rather lenient because nobody fucking cares if you pirated a movie. In Japan, you could face charges for illegal downloads. Now, the TPP, aside from being a trade pact, is also an IPR regime, or a set of IPR rules that transcends borders. Anybody who wants to join the TPP must embrace its rules and adapt them into national law. IPR laws in the TPP are supposedly much more rigid than US laws, but since we don’t have enough details, we can’t say for sure.

What’s Wrong with the TPP?

So, we want to protect copyright. That’s not a bad thing, right? That depends: which side are you on?

There’s a fuck ton of things that are wrong with the TPP, but perhaps the most important one is about copyright. The TPP has the potential to basically kill all kinds of creativity in the name of copyright.

RocketNews24 has already discussed the possible debilitating effects of the TPP on the doujinshi market. Let me elaborate. Doujinshis are a type of derivative work, which is a work that “borrows” stuff like, but not limited to, characters from a certain anime/manga/other licensed intellectual property. And by Japanese copyright laws, doujinshis are by nature illegal because they are sold for profit. However, stakeholders have turned a blind eye because the doujinshi market, while clearly infringing copyright, has proven to be a much more lucrative opportunity. From Comiket, the manga industry can scout new talent and also increase their fandom. It would be a great hassle to sue a poor NEET just because they made a doujin of Umaru being raped by a bunch of anthropomorphized game consoles. The costs (lawyers, court, etc.) would exceed their gains, making it really stupid. By the way, it’s only considered a criminal offence if someone presses charges.

Now, enter the TPP. The terms of the TPP make it so that even minor offences are punishable by law. It removes the “crime after someone presses charges” system, meaning that the mere act of drawing Miria Akagi being raped by ten old men is considered a criminal offence. (Well, it should be. How could you! Treating an innocent loli like that… You fucking monster!)

Related to that, there is no indication of a “fair use” clause in the TPP. You guys know fair use right? When you use licensed music in a personal YouTube video, or when you download images off Google to use in a class presentation? Nope, according to the TPP, that’s now illegal and you can go to jail for that. And to top it off, even breaking digital rights management (DRM) on software for personal archiving or other uses can be illegal under the TPP.

Those are only the tip of the iceberg. Since I’m not a law major, I can’t discuss in detail about the clauses in the leaked TPP documents. But those aspects I find the most distressing about the TPP. Don’t take my word for it, I’m just another blogger on the internet.

What’s the Deal with Indonesia?

If Japan’s artists are rallying against the TPP, something must be wrong with it. But why did Joko Widodo agree to join the TPP when his entire political campaign was about developing creative industries? I’m genuinely concerned by this because I wrote a paper (which got published) a year ago about Indonesia’s creative industries and how they could become an agent of Indonesian soft power. I was highly optimistic back then, but now, I’m losing hope.

I think it’s important to let you guys know that Indonesia has a terrible IPR law record. Since the 1980s, Indonesia has repeatedly made it on the IIPA list, which is a list of countries deemed to be the best pirates in the world. Indonesia’s one of the best pirate countries in the world, by the way, according to the list. The annual IIPA report (most recent 2014) has yet to relieve Indonesia of this shameful status. Some of the problems mentioned were “largely non-transparent” legal procedures and the lack of a comprehensive IPR protection framework.

And don’t let get started on the severe lack of IPR law enforcement. The cops are raiding small-time DVD pirates while turning a blind eye to copyright infringement in the publishing industry. Makes you wonder why Indonesian writers choose to publish abroad.

Perhaps, by joining the TPP, Indonesia can finally step up its game in IPR protection. But is that really the case?

You see, creativity and IPR have this love-hate relationship. See, nothing is original under this blue sky. Someone else may have already thought about an idea we had yesterday. Different cultures share similar folklore; I’ve noticed some similarities between the fables of Aesop and Balinese bedtime stories. Even across Indonesia, cultures share similar types of music and dances. But on the other hand, in an increasingly capitalistic society where ideas are commodities, a degree of IPR is required to keep creative people in work. Wouldn’t you be pissed off if someone ripped off your artwork and claimed it were theirs? But too much IPR protection has the potential to kill creativity in the name of shekels. We have to realize that being creative sometimes means “stealing” (in a good sense) other people’s work and then adding our own touch to it.

“It is difficult for me to build characters from scratch since I am not a professional,” Usami said Dec. 30 while attending the 87th Comic Market, a famed event featuring fan fiction held at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center in the capital’s Koto Ward. “People who buy my manga like it if I can manipulate well-known, attractive characters in a way that pleases me.” – Asahi Shimbun, 29 March 2014

Let’s take  a look at Indonesia’s creative industries. Face it, a lot of our so-called “creative” home-grown industries are just a bunch of pirates. That cool anime shirt on sale at a convention? The pic’s from Google or Pixiv, and a dude stole it and printed it on a fucking shirt. Those keychains may also be stolen images, printed on acrylic then sold to you gullible fucks at 20K per piece. Those kind of people exist, but I don’t regard them as part of the creative force. Fuck those pigs.

What I do appreciate as part of the creative forces are artists, cosplayers, writers, and filmmakers making original content, but are way underappreciated by the ignorant Indonesian masses. With a bit more IPR protection, those people could thrive in a conducive environment for creativity. But what about doujin circles and cosplayers? Considering the blanket-ban nature of the TPP, I’m quite concerned of the fate of these people. The otaku community in Japan are rallying against the TPP because it would make doujins and cosplays as a punishable IPR offence, even if the copyright owner does not feel the need to press charges. If it were applied here, then we’d have “people vs corporate” drama every fucking day. Artists wouldn’t be allowed to make doujins of original Indonesian characters; there won’t be parodies or doujins of TAWUR or Reon and Reyna 18+ fiction (which I would totally buy). The sole right to cosplay as lies in the company’s hands; nobody else will have the right to playfully cosplay as Yumna from Battle of Surabaya without the “IPR Police” swooning in with their black helicopters. Creativity will die at the TPP’s hands.

So, we need a degree of IPR protection, but if there’s too much, it works against the interests of the people. And without creativity, the entire “muh creative industries” rhetoric brought up by the President would be for naught.

P.S. Someone fucking draw a doujin where ALL characters of Re:ON Comics or Nusaimoe face the TPP in an epic boss battle.